Sunset In San Juan

Monday, April 16, 2012
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Today the ship will make its first port of call, at San Juan, Pueto Rico. Before that, however, there was still three quarter of a day's seminar to attend. The sea continued to be "rough" so it was putting some first-timers off the thought of cruising. The ship's captain - a Greek like many of the senior officers on this cruise line of Greek origin - announced that the ship will arrive half an hour late due to the weather, giving us even less daylight time in our short call in San Juan.

When the ship was finally approaching San Juan, I joined the many hundreds on the upper deck enjoying the first sight of land (the first sign was of course of sea birds like gulls or boobies flying around the ship) after two days at sea . One could see why San Juan was such a guarded acquisition for the Spaniards. Its perfectly sheltered harbour gave ships respite from the 30 knot winds and swells just beyond. Plus, the island was strategically located as a transportation hub for the Spanish conquistadors' haul of gold from Peru, Mexico and other Caribbean locations. It is here in San Juan they built the extremely-fortified El Morro fort, which also happens to be the most popular tourist destination, among other attractions in Puerto Rico.

San Juan's harbour is also smack in the middle of its old town, so any mobile person could easily explore the quaint cobbled streets and coloured buildings of San Juan. The fort's walls, gate, and El Morro are not much further away. The main challenge was adjusting to the heat, after the climate of Canada and the air-conditioned cocoon of the Eclipse. I am not sure today (Monday) was a public holiday, because it looked like many families were up and about, flying kites or just lying around in the open space outside El Morro. Maybe the life in Puerto Rico affords the luxury of working short hours.

The setting sun brought out the true colours of San Juan in its brightly-painted buildings and interesting balconies. Old San Juan is set on a hill so there is a 3-dimensional feel to the town. It is easy to take a rest in one of the many cafes and bars spread throughout this town which has a distinctive European feel. The seafront promenade is another scenic walk, leading from the Old San Juan gate to the harbour, where the European feeling disappears, with the appearance of eateries like Subway and fashion stores like Polo. The parrot man and trinket stalls remind one that this is the Caribbean.